This is with reference to Samad Khurram's article ‘Why I chose to came back’ (September 15). It reminded me of the time when I decided to come back to Pakistan after finishing higher studies abroad. As was the case with Samad, everyone asked me why I came back.
There was indeed an immaturity in me when I first came back to Pakistan the problems didn't seem as big, the issues not as complicated, and the tasks not as time consuming. However, being from the middle class, I soon realised that I had under-estimated the tasks at hand, especially considering that along with nurturing one's dreams, people of the middle or lower middle class also have to maintain a healthy source of livelihood to keep afloat in this country.
And on returning to this country and having to work in the thick of things for a living whilst also nurturing ambitions for the country, my sense of idealism and invisibility, perhaps like others, has clearly taken quite a beating. I have come to realise, as I'm sure have others, that over here, religion is nothing more than an excuse to get away with murder, encourage intolerance and cement backwardness and illiteracy. Corruption signifies one of the few things which can be called a ‘uniting factor’ amongst the people of our country, and is considered the norm rather than the exception.
A fake degree is worth more than a real one, and any individual who is silly enough to believe in honesty, sincerity and principles shall either be mocked into marginalisation or shall have to keep a low profile to remain relevant. Nepotism is the criteria for selections, and criminal cases the criteria for elections. You are welcome to enter politics and become leaders if you’re a Bhutto or a Sharif, and your life is as valuable as a ‘no-smoking’ sign in a cigar lounge.
However, as weakened as our sense of idealism is, and as battered as our sense of optimism may be, that is no excuse for me, or for anyone else for that matter, to take it out on anyone else who wants to come back to Pakistan to make a difference, no matter how misplaced or elitist it may sound. In a country which thrives on self-ridicule and put-downs, it is but a breath of fresh air to see people actually return.
Each person must be encouraged to realise his or her dreams and contribute to society in whatever way possible, be it in politics, arts, the media or any other field. However, it is imperative that the success of our work, the efficacy of our ideas, and the value of our efforts must not be judged upon the grindstone of immediate benefits. If someone has expressed a desire to come back to Pakistan to contribute to its development and assist it in cleaning up its act, we should encourage them. After all, people who move back, in doing so, are not only making a solemn commitment to invest financially and economically in the development of the country, they have also committed to invest their whole lives to the cause of a prosperous Pakistan. Fortunately, or sadly, that, in itself, may be more commitment than that which has ever been shown by any singular political leader in this country.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2010.
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